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A family-owned chain of Calgary shawarma restaurants is facing backlash after Alberta Health Services revealed a suspected norovirus outbreak linked to their restaurants.
According to AHS, nearly 130 people have registered complaints that they fell ill after eating food from Jerusalem Shawarma.
AHS said Thursday it received its first complaint about Jerusalem Shawarma on Dec. 6.
More complaints were later made by 17 different groups who said they ate food from multiple Jerusalem Shawarma locations from Dec. 4 to 12.
“Please don’t judge us,” Jerusalem Shawarma co-owner Izzo AbuFarha said. “It was just an isolated [incident] in one of our locations, it didn’t happen all over the place.”
AbuFarha and his five brothers own the 10-restaurant chain, which opened in 2013.
He said they’ve has complied with AHS health inspectors, who recommended the restaurant wash common surfaces and the washrooms every 30 minutes.
AHS said they are currently investigating each complaint to verify the claims, with many coming from groups that fell ill after eating catered lunches.
All of the chain’s locations were inspected by AHS, but none of the restaurants were ordered to close.
“Anything that was of concern, like the ready-to-eat food products, have all been discarded — those things have been started from scratch again. There’s been full disinfections at each of the locations, so we’ve ensured that public safety is number one,” AHS Calgary Zone safe food program manager Sarah Nunn said.
“If there was any serious concerns, then absolutely those locations would’ve been closed.”
Following the news of the AHS investigation, AbuFarha said the restaurant has seen a steep decline in business, including multiple cancellations of catering orders.
He said the restaurant has also received racist comments. “This is something we’ve been getting on a daily basis, lots of bad comments, lots of messages, lots of threatening, lots of phone calls to our staff, to our employees,” AbuFarha said.
Faizan Butt, the lawyer representing Jerusalem Shawarma, said the investigation has been blown out of proportion.
According to AHS, the virus is common around this time of year and is extremely contagious. Symptoms of norovirus include severe stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea, and can last anywhere from 24 to 60 hours, AHS said.
The best way to prevent infection is to wash your hands often and wash fruits and vegetables before eating them.
“The biggest thing is it’s out there in the community, and it’s about prevention,” Nunn said. “It’s about making sure that we don’t pass this on to anybody else.”
Nunn said AHS takes every complaint seriously and recommends anybody with concerns to contact AHS or 811 with health questions.
AbuFarha said his employees are taking AHS’ advice seriously, all in an effort to go on with business as usual.
“We’re seeking the support of our community, we’re seeking the support of Calgarians in making this business get back to normal,” he said.
With files from Global News’ Kaylen Small
Original article: LINK
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A Colorado school district has closed more than 40 schools after a highly contagious virus outbreak.
It’s the first time the Mesa County Valley School District 51 has had to close all schools due to illness, the district said Wednesday.
“We are taking this highly unusual action because this virus is extremely contagious and spreading quickly across our schools,”
Nursing Coordinator Tanya Marvin said in the statement.
More than a dozen schools in the state’s 14th largest district reported increased absences “due to illness and several incidences of vomiting in public areas of the schools,” according to the Mesa County Public Health Department.
A second, related virus has also been affecting students in recent weeks, the district said.
“The combination of the two has created an unprecedented spread of illness.”
“Onset of symptoms for both types of viruses, including vomiting, is incredibly fast. The second version also causes fever in several cases,” the district statement said.
The health department says it is working to identify the illness, which is “acting a lot like norovirus” and lasts between 12-24 hours.
Norovirus, sometimes called the “stomach bug,” is easily spread through direct contact, consuming contaminated food or water, or touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your hands in your mouth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The very young, older people, and those with other illnesses are most vulnerable to severe dehydration.
The closure includes all after-school activities, the district said, and schools will remained closed until after Thanksgiving break.
Mesa County Valley School District 51 is the largest school district between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Denver, Colorado, the district website says. It serves more than 22,000 students in 46 schools and programs, employing nearly 3,000 employees.
Tips on how to avoid the illness include thoroughly washing hands and staying away from people who are sick.
“When you have norovirus, the very dramatic symptom people have is often violent vomiting that hits you pretty suddenly,” said Amesh Adalja, MD, a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in Baltimore, Maryland.
“You have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and it usually lasts 24 to 48 hours,” he told Healthline. “It can be a pretty grueling 24 to 48 hours.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source reports the virus sickens millions of people each year. The very young, older people, and those with other illnesses are most vulnerable to severe dehydration.
Each year, as many as 71,000 people are hospitalized. Between 500 and 800 die.
“What’s very striking about norovirus is that it’s very highly infectious. And if you’re exposed to it, there’s a very high likelihood you could be infected by it, even if you’re in good health,” Adalja said.
Easy to get, hard to shakeExperts say that when someone is sick with norovirus, they have large amounts of the virus in them, although it only takes a little to make you sick.
“We know that people who have the virus shed it in very large numbers in their fecal material. We’re talking millions to billions of virus particles in a gram,” said Lee-Ann Jaykus, PhD, a professor in the department of food, bioprocessing, and nutrition sciences at North Carolina State University.
“It probably doesn’t take more than 100 particles to make you sick,” she told Healthline.
Jaykus says scientists know the virus is passed from person to person. That happens when an infected person doesn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom.
The surfaces they touch can become contaminated. If the infected person is a food handler, they can pass the virus onto your food.
They also know that when an infected person vomits, that surface will be contaminated.
But more recently, researchers learned that norovirus may also be transmitted in the air from the repeated vomiting.
“A lot of times this is what we call projectile vomiting, very forceful and severe, literally across the room,” Jaykus explained. “Some of that vomitus gets aerosolized, and it has norovirus in it.”
To study how this happens, Jaykus and a team of researchers actually built a vomiting machine to test how norovirus spreads. The machine simulated human vomiting.
The team used a surrogate virus, which wouldn’t make anybody sick. Then they measured the airborne virus particles.
The scientists publishedTrusted Source the findings of their study in the PLOS One journal in 2015.
“You can detect it. The numbers are not as high as in fecal material, but it’s there,” Jaykus added. “What happens is some of the virus gets aerosolized, people breathe it in. It hits the mucous membranes, goes into the stomach, and the infection process starts.”
And once it starts spreading through a community, the virus is hard to get rid of.
“This particular virus is extraordinarily resistant to the sanitizers and disinfectants that we commonly use at regulated concentrations and contact times,” Jaykus said.
“It’s also incredibly persistent. If I were to put norovirus on a surface in front of me right now, it would probably remain capable of causing infection for a month, maybe more,” she added.
What you can doJaykus notes there’s no norovirus vaccine yet, although some are being developed.
“The real way to protect yourself is to wash your hands a lot. If you see somebody vomiting, go the other way. And if you’re on a cruise ship, tell somebody,” she said.
The CDC Trusted Source has put together some tips to help you keep norovirus from spreading:
1) Practice good handwashing for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer alone won’t do.
2) Wash your fruits and vegetables. Cook seafood thoroughly.If you’re sick, don’t cook or care for others for at least 2 to 3 days after you recover.
3) Clean contaminated surfaces first, then disinfect them. Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1,000 to 5,000 ppm (5 to 25 tablespoons of household bleach [5.25 percent] per gallon of water) or other disinfectant registered as effective against norovirus by the Environmental Protection Agency.
4) Wash your laundry thoroughly.Learn More
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Hand hygiene helps to reduce school absenteeism rates due to illnesses by almost 40% of studies suggest, said a senior healthcare professional.
While many factors contribute to school absenteeism, student illness is believed to be the main driver of student absenteeism.
The transmission of infections within schools can result in infections making students too sick to attend classes, said Dr Mohammed Rahmathulla Shafeeq, Assistant Executive Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Hamad Medical Corporation.
He urged parents and teachers to place special focus on handwashing.
“Proper and regular handwashing is essential for children as it ensures hygiene and averts infection,” said Dr Shafeeq.
“Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. If soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitiser,” he said.
Diseases such as flu, common cold, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach flu are common diseases that can be positively impacted by more frequent hand hygiene and routine cleaning and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces.
“Proper and regular handwashing at school and outside keeps children free of infection. And schools should have proper facilities that help students easily wash their hands and maintain proper hygiene,” said Dr Shafeeq.
“Sinks should be placed in a place that is quite accessible for all students. And we recommend liquid soaps as soap bars cause infection to be transmitted from an infected child to others while it is used for handwashing,” he added.
Dr Shafeeq also said that tissue papers should be made available and children should be asked to make use of them after washing hands.
“Possibility of infection is high if the hands remain wet,” he said.
Dr Shafeeq also urged the school authorities to ensure that enough break time is available for all.
“Inadequacy of time can create inconvenience for students and this should be addressed. And all students should be given bathroom break if they demand it during class time,” he said.
He asked parents to teach their children personal hygiene and ensure hygiene is properly maintained in order to ensure that their children are free of infection.
“Children should be asked to take regular baths and brushing of teeth. And they should be sent to school with cleaned washed clothes,” he said.
Dr Shafeeq urged school authorities to regularly clean and maintain water cooler dispensers and air conditioning units in order to ensure they don’t transmit anything harmful.
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Bloodstream infections (BSI) are one of the most cited complications among hemo-dialysis patients within dialysis units (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). These types of infectious complications, such as peritonitis, often associated with unhygienic technique and exit-siteinfection. Prevention of exit-site location is largely associated with skin-resident microbes. Approximately 42% of peritonitis episodes are known to be associated with touch contamination.
One of the most commonly cited tools to prevent infections is efficient hand washing (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). In 2005, the International Society for Peritoneal Dialysis (ISPD) recommended hand washing as a standard care recommendation and procedure to befollowed in dialysis treatment centers.
In a 2013 study, researchers compared the hand washing efficiency of two different techniques for patients undergoing dialysis care: (1) the use of simple hand hygiene followed by antiseptic hand hygiene, and (2) only antiseptic hand washing. Simple hand hygiene followed traditional hand washing techniques, while the antiseptic hand hygiene mechanism included the use of 3 mL of 70% ethyl alcohol as a mechanism. Interestingly, this study found that the number of bacteria found on hands was increased when the mechanism for hand washing included the use of simple hand hygiene in addition to the antiseptic hand washing method in comparison to only antiseptic hand washing.
The results of this study potentially indicate that one of biggest hindrances in achieving bacteria-free hands is the use of improper or ineffective techniques for washing hands. This study indicates that one of the largest obstacles to achieving sufficient hand hygiene likely relies on the ability of patients to accurately and efficiently clean their hands.
References:Center of Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Infection Prevention Tools. U.S. Department of Heath & Human Services. Retrieved from:https://www.cdc.gov/dialysis/prevention-tools/index.html
Figueiredo, A. E., de Siqueira, S. L., Poli-de-Figueiredo, C. E., & d’Avila, D. O. (2013). Hand hygiene in peritoneal dialysis patients: a comparison of two techniques. Peritoneal Dialysis International, 33(6), 655-661.